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Voting Power and the Supply of News Media: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from India

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In this paper, we investigate how media owners react to changes in the political importance of vote choices — voting power — in different areas. Whereas “one person, one vote” is often considered the guiding principle of democracies, there is in fact great variation across the democratic world in the extent to which votes matter at all (e.g., less in the context of electoral fraud), the extent to which they translate directly into seats or affect elections in a more indirect manner (such as through electoral colleges), and the weight given to one vote compared to another (e.g., votes in densely populated areas counting for less). As the voting power of an area increases, influencing the political behavior of the electorate also becomes increasingly important for actors seeking political influence. As a result, controlling the quantity and bias of the news media that voters are exposed to becomes a serious challenge. One may therefore expect changes in the voting power of an area to be associated with an increase in the supply of news media, if influencing voters is an objective of media owners.

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